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dren to him, "He took them into his arms, and blessed them, "and declared, of fuch is the Kingdom of God." Are little ones capable fubjects of the bleffings of Heaven. Surely this was the opinion of our Lord. Do they pertain to the Kingdom of God? Whether by this phrafe may be meant the Kingdom of the Church on earth, or the Kingdom of Heaven, it amounts to the fame thing. I apprehend the declaration of our Lord, ought to be taken in the most extenfive latitude as compre. hending both. This lays a confolotary foundation for all be lieving parents, who have dedicated their infant feed to God, to enjoy a fatisfying hope, that if they die in infancy, they are fanctified and tranflated to glory. It is probable, heaven is much more peopled with little ones, with the lambs of the flock, than we are ready to imagine.
Secondly, feeing children very early begin to manifeft an evil temper, and the corruption of their nature, it is the part of parents by all poffible means to restrain and guard against it. The habits of fin are of an encreafing nature, and are to be fuppreffed as far as poffible. It is easiest to bend the tree while it is young. But if after parents have done in wisdom and prudence what was in their power, the children fhould turn out froward and evilly difpofed, they may have much confolation and peace in their minds that they have per formed their duty. Alas! how far from right is the conduct of many parents, who, before the little ones can well walk, will learn them to beat the floor that hurt them, and teach them to torment and mutilate flies and other infects, and a train of such improprieties, hereby nourishing in them, a spirit of revenge, malice, and cruelty, while they know not what they do.
As foon as children are capable of any inftruation, or when they begin to take in the knowledge of common things, parents fhould begin to inftil into their tender minds, a difference be
tween right and wrong, fome rudiments of moral and religious import. A heathen could once fay, "A veffel will long retain a favor of that liquor with which it is first seasoned." Hence it is of high importance that their infant understandings fhould be early tinctured with wholefome and virtuous principles, which may have a happy influence upon them through. out the whole of their after lives. "Train up a child," fays the wife man, "In the way he should go, and when he becomes "old he will not depart therefrom." This not merely expreffes a commandment to employ proper means to promote their temporal interest, but also to ufe every rational and fcriptural method of instruction to advance their spiritual and eternal intereft. 66 Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of
Thirdly, parents ought, neither to act nor fpeak before their children, things which would be of dangerous confequence for them to follow. Example has generally a greater influence upon perfons than precept, and more especially upon the minds of youth. That is the age of imitation. And as they are naturally prone to evil, fo any thing bad presented before them, catches like fire on fuperadded fuel. Wherefore parents ought to be pleafant and circumfpect in all their walk and converfation before them, not giving an undue loose to their tongues, nor indulging themselves in any bafe or wicked frivolity in their prefence. How awful is the conduct of fuch who can curfe and fwear and iffue forth the fpume of hell in torrents of obscenity before their children. Can they expect any thing else, but that they will learn and imitate their abominations? Beware of backbiting, reviling, and flandering where they are, or you will teach them to be talebearers, tatlers and landerers, and form them to be the plagues of fociety.
Fourthly, parents must take heed that they do not exercife
feverity for trifles, and fhow themselves too much offended at childish inadvertencies, left they should difguft and provoke their children to wrath, weaken their own influence and mar their authority over them. Rarely will they receive ufeful inftruction from those for whom they have no proper regard. Wherefore as parents tender the weal of their children both in this world and in that which is to come, they ought to conciliate their affections, and ingratiate themfelves into their favour and esteem, convince them of wrong, and induce them to that which is right, rather by rational and perfuafive confide. rations, than by the furious or gloomy aufterity of authority. However young, they must be ruled as creatures poffeffed of reafon. If they perceive that your advice, counfels and exhor. tions flow from a just affection and esteem, for they become earlier fond of esteem than we are apt to conceive, then they will be more ready to give a liftening ear, imbibe, and heartily yield obedience to your inftructions. How unhappy, and how much to blame are those, who never manifest any government, only when it is accompanied with anger, corruption and ill-nature ?
Fifthly, parents should guard against an allowance of their children in an exceffive boldness and impudent familiarity with them; neither on the other hand, fhould they eftrange themselves from them, nor keep them at too great or a fearful distance. Extremes in all things, are to be avoided as much as poffible. Meekness, tenderness and kindness, ought ever to prefide on their lips. All reftraints, commands and rational indulgencies, should appear to proceed from love and for their good. This is a likely courfe to render themfelves amiable and refpectable in the eyes of their children, and fo to educate them in the ways of righteoufnefs and in an abhorrence of iniquity. This tends to render them upright and fincere in your prefence, as well as faithful and diligent in your abfence. Pa
rents, who conduct with propriety tow rds their children, may fafely fhow their authority when they commit faults worthy of correction. They will feel the conviction, that it is the fault which caufes displeasure, and that the parents treatment of them is defigned for their amendment, improvement and good.
Sixthly, parents ought to endeavour to bring up their off. fpring in obedience to themselves, to bow their wills by times, to reclaim their deviations from propriety, and implant in their little fouls the feeds of every virtu:. Parents fhould ftudy to know the will of God, and be confcienciously perfua ded, that they urge nothing upon them, but what is agreeable thereto, and warranted by the dictates of reafon. Alas! many children are allowed fo long their own head, and to havetheir own will, that when it becomes abfolutely neceffary that authority fhould be exerted, it is an arduous tafk either to restrain or subdue them. Yea, at length, fome wax fo refrac tory and ungovernable, that they efcape beyond the power: of discipline, and had they have been duly managed in season, might have been formed to be useful members of fociety; but an over and too long indulgence has been their ruin. Wherefore parents fhould early begin in tender affection, and in the wifeft manner, to fhow them the excellencies of obedience, how pleafing to God, and their parents, and how comfortable and happy it will be to themselves, as alfo the great evil of Atubbornnefs, wilfulness and difobedience.
Seventhly, parents fhould as much as poñible feparate their children from bad company. Evil communication corrupts good manners. Young perfons infenfibly flide into an imitation of those they make their companions. Hence it is of great confequence in the education of children that they fhould be preferved from hearing profanity, and have no opportunitie
of beholding the external copies of vice. But as a defire of fellowship and fociety is connatural to us from our cradles, it is incumbent upon parents, to have an eye upon the company of their children, and fee that it be fuch, from which they learn not evil, but rather that they may imbibe from it the principles of decency and virtue, and which may be likely to recommend to them the pleafure, beauty and advantages of piety.
Eighthly, parents ought frequently to inculcate upon the minds of their children the examples of early religion recorded in the fcriptures, such as the hiftories of young Samuel, Jofiah, Obadiah, Timothy, and others. This would have an excellent effect in restraining from vice, rendering their confcience tender, and inducing them to feek after piety in their youth. Children thould have their hearts deeply impreffed with a great reverence for the holy fcriptures; and when the doctrines, truths and duties of religion are spoken of, it ought always to be with folemnity, gravity and ferioufnefs ; fo that even before children can understand holy things, they may have a reverence of them upon their minds.
Laftly, parents ought to pray with and for their children, to teach them to pray, and as soon as expedient cause them to end public worship, to respect God's fan&tuaries and fabbaths. They fhould hear their parents recommending fre quently good people and perfons eminent for piety and Godlinefs of their acquaintance. Thefe recommendations they will easily receive. Before they can understand doctrines, they can learn in general what kind of perfons are most happy or most miserable. If you poffefs them of good and honorable thoughts of fuch as fear God, they will be ufually afterwards difpofed to think refpectfully of them. They will wish to hear pious minifters and to be fuch christians.